The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is considered to be the first autobiography written in English. It is written in the first-person point of view by Franklin, not only to tell about his life but to tell the readers about how The New World (America) can lead to a better life. The tone in his writing varies tremendously from matter-of-fact to skeptical. The work often takes a condescending tone, yet it praises the virtue of humility. He consistently desired to better himself, others, his city, and his colony.

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Benjamin Franklin is also none as the first “Self-Made Man in America living the “American Dream.

Franklin conveys the possibilities of a life in the New World through his own trials from being lower class to becoming one of the most admired men in the world. Franklin felt that anyone in The New World could follow in his footsteps to reach the same own economic and social status as he did. He advocated that the possibilities were limitless for those willing to practicing frugalities, honesty, industry, and like virtues. He achieved his success through a solid work ethic. “There are no gains without pains. Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. He proved that even undistinguished persons in The New World could, through industry, become great figures of importance in America. Americans chose to believe Franklin’s descriptions of American opportunities because they were so flattering. “Nothing so likely to make a man’s fortune as virtue. Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. However demanding his present labors may have been, he ensured reward. “Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day. “Benjamin Franklin, Part 3. The quotation underlines Franklin’s belief that hard work, persistence, and continuing dedication are far more important elements for success than outsized strokes of good luck.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin was one of the first autobiographies in the English language. Franklin established the autobiography as a work that is meant to not only tell about his own life but also to educate the reader in ways to better live life. The Autobiography tells us today what life was like in 18th century America. It is told from the perspective of only one person, in an age when literacy was low and writing very narrow, any surviving documents are of value to historians who wish to learn how people lived from day to day. “Reading became fashionable, and our People having no public Amusements to divert their Attention from Study became better acquainted with Books, and in a few Years were observ’d by Strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than People of the same Rank generally are in other Countries “Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Part2. Pg 33.
Franklin’s style of writing has been modified throughout American history, Frederick Douglass’ Narrative and Henry Adams’ The Education of Henry Adams owe much of their style and format to the tradition established by Franklin. Part Two of the Autobiography, complete with its list of virtues and ways in which one can achieve them, has influenced numerous writers over the last two centuries. It also helped father the genre of the mainstream self-help book which have grown increasingly over the years and continue to do so.

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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. (2019, Sep 13). Retrieved from